Monthly Archives: September 2007

Bopanna and Qureshi in Kingfisher Open doubles final

Rohan Bopanna has a shot at doing India proud with a doubles title at the Kingfisher Airlines Open, along with a chance to erase last year’s losing finalist tag.

Rahul Bopanna(L) & Aisam Qureshi(R)Pairing up with Pakistan’s Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, Bopanna defeated Lars Burgsmuller of Germany and Olivier Rochus of Belgium 6-2, 6-3 in the semifinals in Mumbai on Saturday.

For the Indo-Pak pair, this is their first ATP tournament together. But they have plenty of experience in title rounds — having won four Challenger titles on the trot in July and August.

Bopanna, 27, had also made the final at Mumbai last year with Mustafa Ghouse only to lose to doubles specialist Mahesh Bhupathi and Croatia’s Mario Ancic.

This time around, Bopanna and Qureshi are up against the third-seeded pair of Sweden’s Robert Lindstedt and Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen.

For the record, Lindstedt and Nieminen have a 17-20 win-loss record going into the final, their first on the ATP tour.

Both pairs have had the advantage of a walkover win in this tournament – Lindstedt/Nieminen in the opening round and Bopanna/Qureshi in the quarterfinals.

Mumbai misses Indians at Kingfisher Open

Kingfisher Airlines Tennis Open - ATP MumbaiIt took four rain-hit days to complete first round matches at the Kingfisher Airlines Tennis Open but when the roll call was taken, no Indians were left in the singles draw.

There’s not going to be any consolation from doubles either. Mahesh Bhupathi, who claimed the inaugural title in 2006 with Mario Ancic, pulled out before his opening round doubles match with what appears to be a bad back.

Wildcard Rohan Bopanna, at 244 the highest ranked Indian in singles, was our best hope and he almost made it. But it was Frenchman Nicolas Devilder who prevailed 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (11-9) after saving three matchpoints.

NCAA champion Somdev Dev Varman, the other Indian wildcard in the draw, actually led 5-4 in the second set against Italian Fabio Fognini but had to settle for a 3-6, 6-7(8-10) loss at the $416,000 ATP event.

In a battle of qualifiers, Navdeep Singh couldn’t find anything to break Toshihide Matsui’s rhythm and lost 4-6, 6-7(6-8) to the Japanese player.

And lucky loser Purav Raja couldn’t make much of a second chance, falling 4-6, 1-6 to Spain’s Ivan Navarro.

Raja and Vivek Shokeen are playing doubles too, but as last-minute replacements for Bhupathi and France’s Fabrice Santoro and no miracles are expected from them.

Last year’s surprise finalists Bopanna and Ghouse also survive in the doubles event though with different partners – Bopanna with Pakistan’s Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Ghouse with Karan Rastogi.

But the question on everybody’s minds is the whereabouts of Leander Paes. The doubles specialist skipped the Mumbai event apparently because of his tiff with Bhupathi. But he and Britain’s Jamie Murray are also missing in action at the ATP Bangkok event, where they were supposed to be playing this week.

Update: Ghouse and Rastogi lost to the British pair of James Auckland and Ross Hutchins 2-6, 6-3, 3-10 in a first round match on Centre Court that lasted an hour and 14 minutes.

Mourinho Leaves Chelsea..

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho

After three years at the club, after 2 premier league titles, 2 league cups, 1 FA cup and 1 FA Community Shield, and an unbeaten-league-home-record later… Jose Mourinho has finally left Chelsea.

Not that it was completely unexpected, but the team players must have been pretty shocked by the turn of events in such a short span. Most of last year’s premiership was filled with rumors and facts about Jose Mourinho’s fights with Roman Abrohamovic, the Chelsea team owner. It even ended with a news reporting saying that Mourinho would leave at the end of the season. Mourinho later cleared doubts regarding his future at Stanford Bridge, stating that there would only be two ways for him to leave Chelsea: if Chelsea were not to offer him a new contract in June 2010, and if Chelsea were to sack him.. Apparently he never mentioned way 3: leaving in the middle of the season..!

Whatever be the reason of his exit, one cannot dispute his amazing statistics with Chelsea: Played 185 Won 124 Lost 21 Drawn 40 with a percentage of 88.65%.. However the most glorious fact about his life at Chelsea was his impeccable home record in the premiership.. 67 matches unbeaten, or in simpler words, Mourinho has never faced a premiership home defeat at Chelsea..

Chelsea have got to recover from this shock as fast as they can, because they have Manchester United up against them.. and the current league champions are in no way going to help out Chelsea from their time of gloom… And about Mourinho, he should get a manager’s position at another club with relative ease, since he commands amazing qualities, and of course some even more amazing statistics…

India win a thriller in Twenty20 against Pakistan

India team after winning the bowl out

India 141 for 9 (Uthappa 50, Asif 4-18) beat Pakistan 141 for 7 (Misbah 53, Pathan 2-20) in a bowl-out 3-0 after match tied.

India defeated Pakistan in a bowl-out after the archrivals played a heart-stopping tie during the Twenty20 world championships on Friday.It couldn’t get bigger than what we witnessed on Friday in Durban. India Vs Pakistan in twenty 20 group D match. As expected the stadium was overflowing with spectators and support for both Asian teams was spectacular. Everyone anticipated a close finish to the match. India and Pakistan were playing each other after the gap of two years. Pakistan won the toss and elected to field first. Asif was on target and destroyed India’s top order. A sensible batting by captain MS Dhoni and Robin Uthappa provided some stability and later few big hits by Irfan Pathan and Agarkar ensured the India reach a respectable score of 141 in 20 overs.

India came out to bowl to ensure that they dont loose match in less than 14.4 overs to save elimination from tournament. Indian bowlers were good and did early damage to grip the match. Pakistan were never in groove to chase the Indian score thanks to some good bowling by Pathan and Agarkar. 42 runs were required of last 3 overs. Afridi was out and then a less known Misbah-ul-Haq played an extraordinary innings and Pakistan required 12 of last over to be bowled by Sreesanth. Two boundaries reduced the target to 1 off last 2 balls. Sreesanth then bowled a dot ball and single was required of last ball. Misbah mistimed the shot and was run out on the last ball and the match ended in a tie.

For 40 overs, two equally matched teams scrapped all they can, taking the inclement and irritating weather in their stride, batting with gusto, bowling with plenty of zeal and firepower, and even fielding with the kind of competence generally not associated with teams from the subcontinent.

Now the result was to be decided by a Bowl Out. India picked Uthappa, Sehwag, Harbhajan, Pathan, Sreesanth as their bowl out bowlers. Pakistan went with their bowlers Asif, Arafat, Afridi, Gul, Sohail Tanvir. India won the toss and lead the bowl out. Sehwag hitting the stumps. Arafat missed. Score read 1-0. Then Harbhajan hit and Gul missed. Score read 2-0. Finally Uthappa hit the stumps and Pakistan needed to hit all 3 next bowl out abut Afridi missed the stumps and India won a nail biting match in Bowl out by 3-0.

The crowd could not have asked for more. This is what which makes Indo-Pak encounters so special. Both Pakistan and India qualified for the Super Eights round after ousting Scotland from the race.The Twenty 20 world cup has got great start which was missing from the world cup in Carrebean in March. The stage is set for some explosive and real nail biting cricket and who knows India and Pakistan may meet again in the later stages.

There is a buzz that Twenty 20 is the future of ‘fatafat’ cricket and if we go by this sort of entertainment it is about to be that way.

Happy days are here again for Indian Hockey

Jubiliant Indian Team after winning Asia Cup 2007INDIAN HOCKEY had gone blind. Like a once-beautiful woman choosing to be oblivious to the havoc age had wrought on her, hockey had refused to acknowledge and arrest its decline. It was a free fall into an abyss. That’s Indian hockey for you — governed by a body conducting matters in a manner that could remind you of the Middle Ages. The last year ended with India finishing last in the six-nation Champions Trophy in Chennai and thereby crashing out of the next event in Spain in July. The year also ended with the International Hockey Federation (FIH) President, Els van Breda Vriesman blasting the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) for being the worst national body among the top nations.

The IHF has not changed its style of functioning but the Indian hockey players have changed their ways in the last six months or so. First they won a bronze in Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament. India retained the Asia Cup giving South Korea a 7-2 drubbing on Sunday. The decisive manner in which the victory was scored has given the coach Joaquim Carvalho plenty of cause for optimism ahead of next year’s Olympic qualifiers. The win has brought the smiles back to many hockey fans and staunch supporters of the game. The number of people that turned out to watch the finals was also encouraging. The face of Indian Hockey will certainly change with a few more victories like this. The Indian Hockey team looked like a changed unit as well. The fitness level, the energy, the team spirit and the aggression was all there. Carvalho also hailed his players’ fitness and teamwork after the former world power rattled up 57 goals and conceded just five over seven games, beating South Korea twice and edging out surprise Asiad silver medalists China on the way to glory. It is difficult to single out any Indian player for appreciation as each one of them contributed, playing their roles to perfection in India’s win. They were rightly given a standing ovation by the spectators at the overflowing stadium.

The sports ministry, a few months back, withdrew hockey from the list of priority sports. The decision was not a welcome move for our national sport. Hockey has been the most successful sport in India. It is the only sport which has got gold medals for India at the Olympics. Now after a few good performances, the IOA President wants hockey to be back in the priority list. The President, Prime Minister, MPs, etc have congratulated the team on its splendid performance.

The reactions all over the world to the win have confirmed one thing – if India starts winning again in leading tournaments, it will help hockey’s revival in In-dia. Hockey is India’s national game with a very rich legacy. It was going through a lean phase, but from all indications it is on a comeback trail. The revival of hockey, or any sport, can happen only if more people play the game at the grass roots level build the infrastructure to make that possible. Let us have more grounds for our children. Let schools inculcate a sporting culture in students. We will then have better players and better teams.